Begin forwarded message:
From: Leila Nilipour >
Date: June 25, 2016 at 10:31:31 PM EST
Subject: Pool 2
By Leila Nilipour / Journalist at La Estrella de Panama
Dr. Jill Biden arrived at the Balboa Port, overlooking the Panama Canal, around 6:30 p.m. There, the U.S. Embassy was hosting and early Independence Day Celebration, to take advantage of the great number of world leaders gathered in the country for the inauguration of the Panama Canal expansion on Sunday, June 26th.
Jill welcomed several local leaders upon their arrival at the event. Among them, the current President of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela, with whom she exchanged some words as well as Vicepresident and Foreign Affairs Minister of Panama, Isabel Saint Malo.
The celebration initiated shortly after with a flag presentation by the marines of the USS Oak Hill LSD-51, followed by the national anthems of Panama and the United States of America, led by the distinguished U.S. Army Band Pershing's Own.
On a stage overlooking the guests were Dr. Biden, accompanied by President of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela and Vice-president Isabel Saint Malo; John D. Feeley, U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Panama and Admiral Kurt W. Tidd, Commander, U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM).
After Ambassador Feeley's and Admiral Tidd's words, Dr. Biden delivered her remarks. She expressed her gratitude for being in the country and for being part of the 4th of July celebration organized by the U.S. Embassy.
She then shared with the guests her experiences visiting Costa Rica, Per? and Argentina, before arriving in Panama. Her objective was to learn how these countries are working together to level the playing field for women and young girls.
Dr. Biden then conveyed how honoured she felt to be leading the presidential delegation at the inauguration of the Panama Canal expansion.
"This expansion will make an incredible impact in so many lives in our country, in the Western hemisphere and around the world", she said.
President Varela offered the final remarks of the night before officially kicking off the celebration. Other local leaders in attendance included Jos? Ay? Prado, President of the Supreme Court of Justice, and former presidents of Panama Martin Torrijos, Mireya Moscoso and Nicol?s Ardito Barletta.
Dr. Biden then headed towards the USS Oak Hill, where she exchanged words with Orlando Bowman, Commanding Officer of the vessel and with Admiral Tidd. She also greeted a group of officers and chiefs of the ship, taking several photos with the group and then individually with the many sailors that approached her. After sharing some more words and hugs with them, Dr. Biden was transferred back to her hotel.